The “atmospheric river” walloping California with drenching rains and gale-force winds prompted daring water rescues Tuesday and kept thousands of residents from flooded or threatened homes.
Dozens of people had to be rescued from their flooded homes in San Jose. The city declared a local emergency Tuesday afternoon “in response to the current and anticipated flooding,” the city tweeted. This allows for mandatory evacuations to be ordered.
The series of storms, which dumped up to 10 inches of rain on Southern Californialate last week, roared through Northern California on Monday and Tuesday. The region’s waterways, already saturated by weeks of heavy rains, were ill-equipped for the latest onslaught.
San Francisco was slammed with almost 2 inches of rain; some areas in the mountains got more than 6 inches. One wind gust reached 199 mph. Although the storms eased Tuesday, the emergency was far from over.
GUSTS TO 199 MPH!
S.F. rainfall has now exceeded normal for a full season: Here are the numbers
Yes, there are rivers up in the sky, and they’re responsible for up to 65% of the western USA’s extreme rain and snow events — such as the storm that blasted Northern California on Monday — a new study finds.
Made visible by clouds, these ribbons of water vapor known as atmospheric rivers extend thousands of miles from the tropics to the western USA. They provide the fuel for the massive rainstorms and subsequent floods along the U.S. West Coast.
The study released Monday, which appeared in the peer-reviewed British journal Nature Geoscience, said it’s not only the USA that sees these weather troublemakers: Globally, up to 75% of extreme precipitation events come from atmospheric rivers, said study lead author Duane Waliser, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Woman drowns after driving into floodwaters
The Latest on the storms in California (all times local):
Rescuers chest-deep in water steered boats carrying about 100 people, some with babies and pets, from a San Jose neighborhood inundated by water from an overflowing creek Tuesday.
Fifteen-year-old Bobby Lee called the evacuation a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience. He was rescued with his brother and parents, who took clothes, electronics and photos from their home in the largely Latino and Vietnamese neighborhood.
Throughout the neighborhood, vehicles were submerged in the water.
The rescues came after a series of heavy storms drenched already soggy Northern California.
San Jose spokesman David Vossbrink says firefighters were going door-to-door to alert residents because the city does not have sirens or another emergency warning system. He says anyone who is near the creek should be prepared to leave.